Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA Responds to NYT Article on Marriott Credit Union
Posted October 15, 2018 by CUNA Advocacy

There has been a lot of interest in last week’s New York Times article on members of Marriott Credit Union.  The article does a disservice to consumers, focusing on the negative experiences of a several credit union members. But credit unions deliver big financial benefits to the 110 million credit union members.  

CUNA’s latest member benefits report shows that average credit union overdraft fees are lower than banks by around $3.00.  Independent market research clearly and consistently shows that credit union pricing is substantially more consumer-friendly than that found at other financial institutions.  For example, nearly two-thirds of credit unions offer free checking accounts whereas only 38% of banks do so. Credit unions are seven times more likely than banks to offer free interest-bearing checking accounts. Studies show that bank NSF fees are 10% to 20% higher than those at credit unions. 

Credit unions also offer lower rates on loans and higher yields on deposits than those available at other financial institutions.  In all, these pricing differences produce direct and indirect financial benefits which totaled approximately $15.0 billion in 2017 alone and $125.4 billion in since 2007. Credit unions also provide their members significant intangible benefits such as unique products and services like prize-linked savings, and participation in democratic elections for board members.  In addition nearly 90% of credit union members belong to a credit union that offers some form of financial education, 66% belong to a credit union that offers financial literacy workshops, and roughly 1/5 belong to a credit union that operates one of more elementary, middle and/or high schools branches helping to provide a unique and hands-on way for youth to take control of their money and financial future. 

Credit unions consistently provide exceptional member/customer service. The Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index reports that trust in U.S. banks stands at roughly 40% whereas trust in U.S. credit unions was highest among all financial firms at 60%.  In a recent Consumer Reports, Bank & Credit Union Buying Guide, credit unions received among the highest marks for customer service that Consumer Reports has ever given an industry.  This stands in stark contrast to the banking industry, which has paid $243 billion in fines since the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009.